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September 17, 2021 Community Update
After the first full week of our community back on campus and participating in classes and residential life, we are pleased to report a total population vaccine rate of nearly 97% and still increasing. From Friday, September 10, through yesterday, we conducted 300 surveillance and rapid symptomatic tests for COVID. The number of positive cases for the week is eight.
We will continue to set health policies for our campus based on analysis of Bryant’s data, guidance from RIDOH and science. After careful consideration of our campus context, Bryant’s policy for indoor masking will be updated starting tomorrow. Policies requiring weekly campus testing for all unvaccinated students and employees are unchanged.
We are extending the requirement for all members of our community and campus visitors- regardless of vaccination status- to wear masks indoors during all class sessions, in the Krupp Library, in offices where people work in close proximity, and in meeting rooms including those in the Unistructure, Quinlan/Brown AIC, and Fisher Student Center.
Even though Bryant has had no instances of transmission in any academic areas or public spaces, masking in these settings is important because individuals are in close contact for sustained periods of time. We are working with Bryant’s Student Government leadership to encourage everyone to follow this mask policy.
If you are not fully vaccinated, to best protect others RIDOH recommends that you continue to wear a mask outdoors in crowded settings and indoors near people you don’t live with. RIDOH also recommends that you continue to stay at least three feet apart from unvaccinated people you don’t live with.
Vaccinated students, faculty, and staff may choose to wear masks in other settings as a matter of personal preference but are not required to mask in areas where there is no sustained physical proximity- such as while in hallways and passing through the Rotunda. Those working in an office are encouraged to be mindful of maintaining social distance and not required to wear masks but are encouraged to do so if they prefer. The latest RIDOH masking guidelines and FAQs are available here.
Access to the Bryant Fitness Center will continue by reservation only, with a maximum capacity of 35 set at a distance so masking will not be required. Full masking is required by RIDOH guidelines in Health Services and the Athletic Training Room.
Throughout the past academic year, Bryant was a national model for success in addressing the virus because our community, and especially our students, stepped up and cooperated with evolving requirements. As a result, we were able to do things that were not possible on other campuses, including holding in-person Commencement ceremonies. We are all in this together and appreciate everyone’s commitment to policies that will help ensure a safe fall semester.
August 25, 2021 Community Update
We are looking forward to the return of our students, starting with 4MILE this Friday and Welcome Week for first-year students beginning September 1. Fall semester classes begin on September 7. Bryant is fortunate to have very high vaccination rates in our community and significant access to testing. More than 90% of the campus community is fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Last year, we kept the Bryant campus open with a layered approach to health and safety that was adjusted over time to address changing circumstances and changing Rhode Island Department of Health guidelines. This year we will continue to align Bryant policies with the evolving context and best practices in higher education.
RI Gov. McKee has declared a new State of Emergency until September 18 due to the dangers posed by the delta variant and other emerging variants. In recent weeks there has been an increase in COVID cases, including among younger people, and the State is currently designated as a high-transmission state. Public health experts have expressed concern that Rhode Island COVID hospitalizations are tracking to keep climbing over the next month despite the state's relatively high vaccination rate.
As a result of this changed context and the high priority we place on the safety of our community, we, along with many other colleges and universities, are revising policies for surveillance testing for the unvaccinated and masking indoors on campus.
Surveillance Testing Required for Unvaccinated Students and Employees
Bryant will continue to invest in its partnership with the Broad Institute for the fall semester and starting on September 7 will require weekly PCR surveillance testing at the Health Services Sick Clinic for all unvaccinated students and employees. This new requirement and provision for student and employee testing on campus is because health experts and data indicate those who are not vaccinated are at significantly increased risk. The testing schedule will be sent to impacted individuals. As previously communicated, the Sick Clinic will also provide rapid Cepheid tests for symptomatic students.
TESTING FOLLOWING INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL
Due to increased risk of exposure, all international air passengers traveling to the US are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result. After travel, students who are fully vaccinated are required to take additional tests on day 3 and day 5. This additional testing is strongly encouraged for vaccinated employees and widely available for free throughout the region. If you are not fully vaccinated, you are required to get tested at days 3 and 5 and quarantine for 7 days.
INDOOR MASKING- NO MASKS REQUIRED OUTDOORS
Effective Friday, August 27, we will require all members of our community and campus visitors- regardless of vaccination status- to wear masks indoors while inside all campus buildings except for locations for which exemptions are noted. Employees will not need to wear masks when they are in an individual or shared office space with six feet of space or more between colleagues. As was the case last year, students in their own residence hall rooms and those who are seated and dining in one of our foodservice venues will not need to wear masks. Access to the Bryant Fitness Center is by reservation only, with a maximum capacity of 35 set at a distance so masking will not be required while using the Fitness Center. Reservations will be on a 60-minute basis. Student-athletes participating in intercollegiate competition indoors will adhere to NCAA regulations regarding masking.
These policies will be in effect until September 18, in alignment with State of Rhode Island’s State of Emergency. We hope that indoor masking will not be necessary for the full semester. Lifting indoor masking requirements is dependent on evolving conditions on campus and in the larger community.
We regret that these adjusted policies may be inconvenient and disappointing for the Bryant community. We are all in this together, however, and the combination of extra testing and indoor masking will allow us to help keep each other safe and have as much as possible of the Bryant experience we all cherish.
Bryant is fortunate to have a spacious campus with many opportunities for outdoor activities and events, so please take these new guidelines into consideration when planning fall events and activities and try to utilize our outdoor spaces as much as possible.
Vaccination remains the most effective tool to address the global pandemic. Vaccines have been safe and highly effective in preventing hospitalization and serious illness. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine has received full approval from the FDA, replacing the emergency use authorization granted by the agency last December. If you have not yet been vaccinated, free vaccine clinics are widely available throughout the region.